By Harish Bala
Karnataka is one of the important states in Indian politics as it sends 28 members to the Lok Sabha. The election commission has announced elections to the Karnataka assembly on May 10 and counting of votes will be completed by May 13. Karnataka is a state in which the caste dominates the elections. The communities like Lingayat, Vokkaligas, and OBCs, minorities identify themselves with a political party and a political party identifies itself as the representative of one of these caste groups.
Most elections are fought on caste equations as each caste people want their representative to win. But in the current election, the caste agendas have been replaced by serious topics like corruption, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, and communalism. From ordinary tea sellers to branded outlets these issues have become the vibrant topics of discussion.
Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in the state is branded as a 40 percent commission government not only by the opposition but also by common people and BJP supporters. It is alleged that the ministers and influential people in the government ask 40 percent commission from the contractors to release funds for the work done by them. This was announced by the government contractor’s association in a press meeting.
Santosh Patil, a contractor from Belagavi was an active member of Sangh Parivar. He did some projects under the Panchayat Raj department in his area. He later wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that then Panchayat Raj minister Eshwarappa had been pressuring him to pay 40percent commission amount in advance and only then his bills will be cleared. Prime Minister Modi once famously said “Na Hi Main Khaunga, Na Kisi Ko Khane Dunga”. But unfortunately Prime Minister’s silence in responding to the letter from Santosh Patil resulted in the latter’s suicide. After this incident, Eshwarappa resigned from the cabinet, and he has been denied a seat to contest in the upcoming assembly elections, as fielding him will add to the waves of anti-incumbency.
All recruitments in the state government lack transparency. Scams in the recruitment of lecturers, police sub inspectors, and engineers have denied entry for qualified and eligible candidates. Employment exchange has become an outlet to sell jobs in wholesale and retail. These scams also have been brought to daylight but no positive actions have been taken against the officials and personnel involved.
Unemployment has become unprecedented in the state. One can visibly see rural unemployment as scores of youths migrate to Bengaluru, the state capital, to do odd jobs like delivery workers, and cab drivers. Basavaraj Bommai describes his government as a double-engine government. This double-engine government had put double efforts to sabotage MNEGRA by minuscule allocation to the scheme which resulted in rural unemployment. The double-engine effect of demonetization and covid lockdown caused the closure of small-scale industries in the state and has left lakhs of people unemployed. Also, urban employment in MNCs is filled by outsiders than the Kannadigas.
BJP’s claims about Infrastructure development are half-baked and are for appeasement for votes. PM Modi Inaugurated the much-hyped Bengaluru Mysore highway a few days before the election announcement. But after a very few days of the inauguration, the road celebrated as “worldclass” was flooded in a nominal rainfall. This event exposes how bogus is BJP’s claim about infrastructure. The floods that happened in Bengaluru in the previous year were due to a lack of proper infrastructure. IT corridors of outer ring road areas in Mahadevpura, Marathahalli, Kadibeesanahalli, and Devarabesanahalli were flooded due to rains. It was estimated that just two days of flood in these areas created a total loss of 250 crores to the IT firms.
Karavali Karnataka region which comprises the districts of Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada is the lab for the communal agenda of Sangh Parivar and the BJP. The Hijab ban and allied controversy were ignited in this area. It started with the Hijab ban followed by halal meat and then by a beef ban. The government has banned beef which has not only caused trouble to certain sections but has also given license to the socalled Gau Rakshaks who are primarily goons to dominate the streets. A group of cow vigilantes led by Puneeth Keerenahalli had killed Idrees Pasha in Kanakapura, the outskirts of Bengaluru. Idrees Pasha and his colleagues were attacked by the gang while transporting cows to Kerala for selling them. Idrees Pasha was killed by the gang in the vicinity of Sathanur police station. Many Christian houses were attacked in places like Mandya, and Kunigal for organizing mass prayers. The lawand-order situation has become worse as the cow vigilantes and Dharma Rakshaks have taken the law into their hands.
The people of Karnataka are fed up with the BJP government as it has not done anything to the improvement of common man’s life. There is a huge anti-incumbency wave against the BJP government. BJP’s dependency on the Lingayat vote bank will also take a hit as popular faces like former chief minister Jagdish Shettar and Lakshman Savadi have deserted the party and joined Congress.
The CPI party congress held at Vijayawada had decided to join hands with left, secular, democratic forces to defeat BJP. CPI had initiated the talks with Congress several months before the announcement of the election. CPI has fielded candidates in seven constituencies and will have a friendly contest with Congress here. CPI state secretary Saathi Sundaresh and Congress in-charge for Karnataka Randeep Surjewala announced the understanding in a press conference last week.
The party has extended support to CPI (M) in Bagepally and Darshan Puttanaiah of Sarvodaya Paksha in Melukote. In the remaining 215 seats CPI has extended support to Indian National Congress candidates. This is to avoid a split in anti-BJP votes. CPI’s commitment and resolve to defeat the communal and fascist BJP in Karnataka is reflected in the decision taken by the party. Intellectuals, progressive thinkers, and activists have appreciated this generosity of CPI. (IPA Service)